Wednesday, May 11, 2011
JUDGMENTS ARE FALLIBLE
The Bible has a lot to say about being judgmental. Jesus and the apostles understood clearly the human tendency to judge others.
"Stop judging others and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, `Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye, then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." (Samuel 16:7)
Matthew 7:1 - Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Luke 6:37 - Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
This is an issue that has confused many people. On one hand, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus not to judge. On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How can we know who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them? All things, big and small, invite our judgment. At every moment of the day, something or other is inviting our judgment of it.
When Jesus told us not to judge, He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment. If you don't want to be judged by certain standards, then don't judge others by those same standards. That's hypocrisy. The truth is, we all judge people. We do it when we watch people. We do it based on appearances, grades, scores, and references.
What we must be careful about is making judgments on things that tell us little about a person's character. A person's appearance ought to never be a basis for judgment. We should not base our judgment on a person's skin colour, how pretty, how ugly, and other physical qualities that we are born with and can do nothing about. These things tell us nothing about a person's character and thus should not be made. So never judge anyone simply based on their look or lack of a look. And whether a person is good or bad should only be judged by his purpose and intention, and not by his mere actions.
The book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible contains codes of laws and other precepts, including statements concerning judging others:
“...do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly...You shall not hate your kinsman in your heart. Reprove your neighbor, but incur no guilt against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. [19:16-17]”
Rabbi Hillel noted, “Don't judge your fellow human being until you have reached that person's place."
Rabbi Bartinoro believed that only people who were confident that they had attained equally good or better behaviors themselves should judge, "If you see your neighbor ensnared by some temptation, do not judge your neighbor harshly until you have faced the same temptation and mastered it."
The act of judgment involves looking to our own store of knowledge, putting together a few facts, figures or fancies, and coming up with some judgment. When we render judgment on another, we have taken upon ourselves an awesome responsibility for making the correct judgment.
The following poem (I found in the net) “Do not judge too hard” by Georgy explains beautifully the way to arrive at fair judgment.
Pray don’t find fault with the man who limps
Or stumbles along the road
Unless you have worn the shoes that hurt
Or struggled beneath his load
There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,
Though hidden away from view
Or the burden he bears, placed on your back,
Might cause you to stumble, too.
Don’t sneer at the man who’s down today
Unless you have felt the blow
That caused his fall, or felt the same
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, if dealt to you
In the self same way at the self same time,
Might cause you to stagger, too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man who sins
Or pelt him with words or stones,
Unless you are sure, yea, doubly sure,
That you have no sins of your own.
For you know perhaps, if the tempters voice
Should whisper as soft to you
As it did to him when he went astray,
‘Twould cause you to falter, too.
So remember- Judgments are fallible and consequently must be carried out with care and empathy. A person's situation must be taken into account as you evaluate someone's behavior. Only then fair judgments can be made.